Even if you have to buy the systems, it is now cheaper to buy Shantae and EarthBound
by John "ANC" Barnes on
Cult classics one-two punch 3DS and Wii U eShop, respectively
Great news for fans of money: you can now download EarthBound for $9.99 on Wii U and Shantae for $4.99 on 3DS instead of paying triple digits per cart on eBay. Well, triple to the left of the decimal. You know what I meant, shut up. I’ve played both (and own one!) and they’re both pretty good! Go get ’em! Or read more if you’re like “Huh?”
Originally released on the Super Nintendo, EarthBound is a quirky HAL-developed RPG featuring four kids who take on an alien menace in a warped pastiche of America, and its popularity only really took off when main character Ness showed up in the Super Smash Bros. series. In the last decade or so the price of a second-hand copy of the game dramatically rose, especially for a copy complete with the original pack-in strategy guide (which Nintendo has also graciously made available online!) and oversized box. Reasons included rising scarcity as collectors bought carts and held onto them, people who played it as children growing up and having money, and rampant speculation that the game wouldn’t likely see re-release due to a number of potential legal ramifications, in particular with regards to sampled music. Back in April, though, Nintendo announced that it would indeed be coming to the Wii U this year, as a hell of a carrot to tempt people who’ve been holding out on the new system, and today without further warning it has dropped, at a slightly higher price than other SNES Virtual Console games have been priced, because they can. No word yet on whether any changes have been made to this release, but I’m sure someone on NeoGAF or YouTube will post all about that soon enough.
Scheduled to come to 3DS in June but pushed back to today for some reason, Shantae is an incredibly late Game Boy Color platformer, originally arriving in 2002 after the Game Boy Advance had been out for around a year. This combined with being one of the largest carts released for the Game Boy Color in terms of storage (32 mb) led to a rather limited release, and I kicked myself for years for not picking it up new when I saw it (ameliorated somewhat by somehow finding a cartridge for three whole dollars at GameStop years later). As a late generation game, it also sports an amazing degree of technical achievement, to the point that it almost looks like a Super Nintendo game. Developed by WayForward, whose current big projects are the next Adventure Time game and NES-revamp DuckTales Remastered, the animation and color palette are phenomenal, and the soundtrack by Jake ‘virt’ Kaufman elevates the whole experience. As for the gameplay: you play as a half-genie whose main attack is whipping her hair as in Kabuki Quantum Fighter on NES there’s a sidescrolling overworld and dungeons, and while the overworld can be a bit tedious the dungeons are great. A sequel arrived on the DSi store a few years ago (and iOS a bit after), and a third entry in the series is in the works for the 3DS eShop, meaning soon all three games will be available on 3DS. Now, go! And hope for Ninja Five-O to get a re-release some day (it won’t 🙁 ).